Referendum and CSU elections bring mixed emotions

An unprecedented voter turnout brought highs and lows for the current board

Christine Beyleveldt / News Editor

After weeks of rigorous campaigning for fee increases to bring new and reformed services to Capilano University’s student population, the results of the referendum brought mixed emotions to the current board of the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU).

The CSU ran a ‘Yes’ campaign to see fee creation and increases. Prior to the referendum, Pacific Blue Cross, the providers of the Health and Dental Plan, raised their premiums, which President and Vice President Finance and Services Perry Safari said was a sign that students were using the service. The CSU needed to raise student fees to continue covering the Health and Dental Plan without taking on a deficit. Fifty-three per cent of the student body that voted rejected the proposed increase, which means the CSU will have to claw back benefits in order to continue offering the plan. Additionally, the Social Justice Support fee proposed by Queer Students Liaison Kaschelle Thiessen to bring in more money for the collective liaisons to draw from for events was also rejected with 54 per cent of votes cast against it. The only fee creation put forward by the CSU to pass was for an Electronics Repair Service, which 56 per cent of students voted for.

Unrelated to the CSU, the Capilano Courier Publishing Society posed a fee increase, which was rejected by students with 62 per cent of votes cast against it. The Business and Professional Associations Fee, which will see a $1.99 per credit fee assessed to students registered in the Faculty of Business and Professional Studies was approved by 51 per ent of its voters. The fee will be used to increase programs, events and services for students in the School of Business. Furthermore, the new fee will allow the business associations on campus to divorce from the University and join the CSU without impacting its spending. This fee will also rise annually according to the Canadian Consumer Price Index.

The CSU’s general elections took place at the same time this year, and for the first time they were moved from a paper ballot to online polls. From Mar. 20-22, the CSU received a higher than ever voter turnout. Nearly 1,500 students voted in the general elections and referendum.

Several positions were left vacant, including those of the Women Students Liaison, Students of Colour Liaison, Faculty of Fine Arts and Faculty of Global and Community Studies representatives. With these positions dormant, the CSU may opt to appoint students to these roles, who would not receive a vote on the board of directors during their time, and host a by-election during the fall semester to fill the vacant positions. This will first have to be discussed and voted on by the current board of directors.

These elections also saw several candidates drop out of the race before it was at an end. Feras Bingursain, who was running for the position of International Students Liaison, withdrew from the election. As did Vice President Equity and Sustainability candidate Shea Mills and former Vice President Academic Andrew Willis, who was running for re-election until he submitted his notice of resignation and withdrew from the elections on Mar. 13 citing personal reasons.

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